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Latest News in Israel – 16th January

Netanyahu says Paris peace conference is ‘rigged’ against Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is being hindered both by terrorist attacks like the one committed on Sunday, killing 4 young IDF soldiers and wounding 15 others, and the upcoming summit in Paris that will focus on implementing a two-state solution.

“We’re all faced here with a great challenge against the forces of terrorism that not only seek to destroy Israel, but seek of course to render any possibility of peace totally hopeless,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.

“There are other such efforts that render peace hopeless, and one of them is the Paris conference,” Netanyahu continued. “It’s a rigged conference, rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances.”

For his part, the Norwegian foreign minister committed to ensuring that there would be a”nuanced outcome” to the conference.

A draft of the summary text for the Paris conference indicates an intention on the part of the participants to set guidelines on the Israeli government (and the Palestinian Authority) that will include a requirement to disavow democratically elected ministers who oppose the two-state solution.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely held a briefing on Wednesday night with the foreign press in which she completely dismissed the Paris conference’s potential of contributing anything meaningful at all towards peace.

“(The Paris conference) is like a wedding with neither bride nor groom,” she said, referencing the absence of any role for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in contributing to its outcome.

“Peace will be achieved between the sides only through direct talks and not by external coercion,” she stated.  (World Israel News)

Israel ahead of Paris talks: Calling Western Wall ‘occupied territory’ is absurd

Israel bashed the international peace conference scheduled for Sunday in Paris, particularly its reported plans to strengthen Palestinian claims that all areas of Jerusalem over the pre-1967 lines are “occupied territory.”

“The claim that everything over the ’67 lines is Palestinian territory is incorrect, unrealistic, and will continue the deadlock,” said a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem on Saturday night.

“There is nothing more absurd than defining the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter [of the Old City] in Jerusalem as ‘occupied Palestinian territory.’ “This is an unnecessary conference, you don’t make peace this way,” the source said, adding that Israel won’t be bound by its conclusions.

The Associated Press reported on Friday that according to a draft statement, the conference would state that the international community would not “recognize changes to Israel’s pre-1967 lines without agreement by both sides.”

The United Nations Security Council issued a similar statement in December.

A high-level diplomatic meeting took place in Paris on Saturday night to finalize the text for the conference, which is expected to be attended by representatives from some 70 countries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Attending for the European Union will be its Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief Federica Mogherini, as well as representatives from the United Nations and the Arab League.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives were not invited to the meeting, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in Paris with a delegation of PA officials. and will meet with French leadership right after the conference.

“We call upon the participants to take concrete measures in order to implement international law and UN resolutions,” Abbas said in a statement to the media Saturday night welcoming the French initiative. “It is long overdue for the Palestinian people to exercise their basic right to live in freedom and dignity.”

In New York, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned that “supporters of the Palestinians are looking for further anti-Israel measures at the Security Council,” and that they may attempt to advance them as soon as this week, based on the closing statement from the conference.

The UNSC is set to meet for its open monthly debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday.

On Monday, the EU council of foreign ministers in Brussels is expected to discuss the conference and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel has dismissed the French parley, stating that direct talks between the leadership in Jerusalem and Ramallah are the only way to achieve peace.

“International conferences and UN decision only distance peace and support continued Palestinian refusal to hold direct talks with Israel,” said a senior Jerusalem diplomatic source.

“The only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations between the parties as was done with Egypt and Jordan.

“If the nations gathered in Paris really want to advance peace, they should pressure Abu Mazen [Abbas] to respond to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s invitations to hold direct talks,” the source added, explaining that settlements were not a stumbling block to peace and were best addressed within the context of negotiations.

The true root of the conflict is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, said the source, adding that the PA continues to teach its people to “hate and murder” Israelis.

French diplomats have, for the past several weeks, tried to lower expectations for the conference, mainly because of Netanyahu’s categorical rejection of the initiative. But the approval of UN Security Resolution 2334 at the end of December changed the international outlook, generating great interest around the world. A similar Paris conference in June attracted just 28 participants.

Sources in the French Foreign Ministry affirmed that at least 40 foreign ministers are expected to attend, with other countries sending lower- level representatives. The conference will be presided over by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and President Francois Hollande is scheduled to address participants at 2:30 Paris time.

Hollande is expected to stress that a two-state solution is the only path to assure a viable Palestinian state next to a secure Israel. He will also refer to UNSC resolution 2334, the speech by Kerry in December and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for a future Israeli-Palestinian arrangement along the 1967 lines.

With French presidential elections scheduled for the end of April, Paris cannot, for the moment, contemplate a third conference, especially since the leading candidate in the polls, Francois Fillon, has objected to a conference without Israel. Still, the French are hoping that the final political statement of the conference will become a term of reference, much like the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, for relaunching a two-state process.

Also, papers produced by the three Paris Conference working groups, Civil Society, Capacity Building and Economic Incentives, should constitute a solid base for continued work on these issues.

The final Paris Conference statement should include a reference to international engagement of preparing the Palestinian Authority to transit towards a sovereign state.

Several projects in this line are currently being developed by the group members and representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

Norway, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, together with the European Union, Japan, China and the US, have been deliberating an economic benefit package for both sides, designed to demonstrate the economic development advantages of a two-state solution.

The group had identified several projects in the fields of transportation, urbane infrastructure and energy, which the international community could support and invest in, through international mechanisms and also by private investors.

The package should include also the 2013 proposal by the European Union to grant a status of “privileged partner’’ to both Israel and the Palestinians.

A Japanese source noted that the group is to continue its work beyond the Paris conference.

In New York, Danon spoke out against the conference, stating that it was “a reward to the Palestinians for continuing to avoid negotiations while promoting terrorism.” He also said the Security Council meeting is “an attempt to promote a last minute initiative before the new US administration takes office.”

“The hypocrisy and the obsessive focus on Israel has reached new heights,” he said.

“These one-sided initiatives not only fail in bringing us closer to peace, but they actually encourage terrorism like we saw in last week’s horrific attack in Jerusalem.”

Several Jewish organizations, too, had expressed their opposition to the Paris conference earlier this month, especially in light of the passing of resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlement activity.

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called for the French to cancel or, at least, postpone what they called an “ill conceived, poorly timed and damaging” event.

“It makes no sense that the next administration is precluded from participating in a discussion of an essential component of US foreign policy with which it will be engaged,” they explained. “Possible outcomes would add further uncertainty that will harm future prospects while unnecessarily inserting a new element of instability to the region.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris told the Post he “can’t see any possible reason to hold the Paris conference, all the more so days ahead of a change in US administrations.”

“History has amply shown that it’s not the way to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” he said.

Anything other than bilateral talks, Harris added, “simply convinces the Palestinians they can avoid the face-to-face bargaining table, while persuading the Israelis they’re dealing both with Palestinian avoidance and international mischief in the guise of ‘do-gooderism.’”   (Jerusalem Post)

Rabbi pans Sydney mayor’s anti-Israel ‘boycott’

A Sydney mayor has refused a personal invitation to attend the annual Great Synagogue Law Service, citing Israel’s “illegal” actions in the West Bank, which he says “will cause endless ­terrorism across the globe, includ­ing here”.

Peter Abelson, the Mayor of Mosman on Sydney’s lower North Shore, has in return been accused of anti-Semitism by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, which said he was not effectively representing Jewish residents in the area.

“Thank you for your invitation to the Great Synagogue Law Service for 2017. I will not be attending,” Dr Abelson wrote to the synagogue’s rabbi, Benjamin Elton, earlier this month.

“I should express my deep personal concern about the gross and illegal occupation of the West Bank which creates intense international division and bitterness and, unresolved, will cause endless terrorism across the globe, including here.”

Writing in response to Dr Abelson, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said: “We are appalled that you would refuse to represent the Jewish constituents of your ward because of your views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

Mr Alhadeff’s letter accused the mayor of anti-Semitism, citing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition, a section of which defines the term as “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel”.

He also rejected Dr Abelson’s characterisation of Israel’s ­actions.

Dr Elton, who has invited nearby mayors and all NSW federal and state parliamentarians to the event, was shocked by Dr Abelson’s response: “Sometimes people decline with thanks, but to receive a reply with a stark message that attacked Israel’s policies … I’m astonished, really.

“The policies of the state of Israel is another discussion. To boycott a Jewish event in Sydney because of the actions of Israel, that’s a form of anti-Semitism.”

Dr Abelson, a PhD in economics who has spent time in northern Israel and worked as an adviser to the NSW Treasury, said he attended all the events he could within his council area and described accusations of anti-Semitism as “nonsense”.

“There are large numbers of people, Jews around the world, who respect Jews and Jewishness, who are critical of the occupation of the West Bank. To say someone who is critical of the West Bank is anti-Jewish is just nonsense … My father’s family was wholly Jewish,” he said.

“I don’t think my views are that important. I’m mayor, I run Mosman for the interest for the people of Mosman. There is no discrimination against Jewish or any other race in Mosman.”

The Law Service at the Great Synagogue is an annual event held at the beginning of the new legal year.  (the Australian)

 IDF: ‘We’ll turn Hamas tunnels into their death trap’

Behind the misleading image of a calm in southern Israel, the IDF and Hamas are already preparing for the next war.

The Israeli side is focusing on locating Hamas’ strengths and optimizing the selection of targets.

Standing several meters from the fence of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the northern Gaza vicinity, one can easily see Hamas’ arms race and recovery taking place.

Palestinian tractors and trucks load construction material which has been recycled from what was left of the homes in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood are a common site.

The residents have not returned to the homes overlooking the fields and houses of Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Gaza’s eastern neighborhood has turned into the largest concrete factory in the strip.

Meanwhile, Hamas posts are springing up like mushrooms after rain between the Palestinian villages and towns and the Israeli border. Under the fertile agricultural land on both sides of the border fence, the land is rustling with the sounds of diggings.

The sounds of Hamas’ combat training, the shooting ranges and fitness exercises can be heard clearly on the Israeli side, even in the middle of the night. Two and a half years after Operation Protective Edge, it seems that quite a lot has changed in the approach of both Hamas and the IDF.

“We plan to turn the enemy’s tunnels into death traps, into something that will stand in their way,” Colonel Yuval Ben-Dov, commander of the Southern Commands Fire Control Center, told Ynet. “The next battle won’t be just over aerial fire, and fire alone will not win the next war.”

The Southern Command is preparing for another conflict in Gaza, this time more accurate and less scattered in terms of munition volumes and explosives.

All these preparations are subject to the Defense Minister’s unequivocal policy to end the next war with a defeat to Hamas rather than buying two or three more years of calm.

Until that happens, every few months the IDF targets strategic assets built by Hamas using exceptional offensive planes that drop tons of ammunition from the air.

On paper, these sporadic strikes are carried out in response to a rocket fired at an Israeli community. In reality, they are launched in an effort to exploit the opportunity to weaken the recovery of Hamas’ military wing.

A conversation with Southern Command officers outlines the change in the IDF’s perception of strikes against Hamas, focusing on efficiency and speed.

IDF officials are realizing that the economic distress, which includes a drop in electricity and water supply and a high unemployment rate, along with sewer flooding and a population growth in a small and crowded area, are turning into a time bomb.

A source in the Southern Command told Ynet that “95 percent of the strip’s budget comes from the outside. Hamas understands that and is acting sensibly.”

In recent months, Hamas has arrested more than 30 rebellious activists who disobeyed its orders and fired rockets at Israel. It is taking other organizations in the strip, such as former Hamas or Islamic Jihad members, under its wings and helping them with training and money.

Hamas will place importance on kidnapping and murdering Israelis

In conversation with commanders for the Southern Command, it is clear that Hamas, like the IDF, will endeavor to fight in a more focused fashion in the next round. The terror organization is planning to carry out simultaneous surprise underground infiltrations via tunnel from which dozens of armed terrorists will emerge from the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip with the sole intent of murdering and kidnapping Israelis.

The emphasis placed on such a tactic is designed to create the impression of victory from the first day of fighting and show that the IDF is unprepared for the battle.

Hamas intends to allocate the majority of its fighting force to the underground sphere to which it wants to lure Israeli soldiers—a sphere which is growing every day.

Moreover, the organization is rearming and improving its rocket capabilities, placing particular priority on firing range as part of its overall strategy of ensuring that residents of the Tel Aviv area receive no respite from the sounds of the sirens, indifferent to the interceptions of the Iron Dome.

But in addition to Hamas’s thirst to wreak havoc on Israeli citizens by way of sound, it is also working to do so by pound—that is, by increasing the explosive impact of their rockets. Short-distanced mortars too are expected to cause greater damage which will be earmarked for communities near Gaza and areas containing IDF concentrations.

Drone attacks, coordinated from within the tunnels, are also expected to be carried out in the next round, as well as amphibious assaults from commando units launched from the sea. The overall strategy is to take the fight to Israel, rather than defend on home turf.

The strategies were already employed, with partial success, by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Whether they will be put to more effective use next time remains to be seen.   (Ynet News)

Leaked transcripts reveal alleged Netanyahu deal-making with media mogul

Parts of a 2014 conversation in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly conspires with Yedioth Ahoronot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes to weaken rival paper Israel Hayom in exchange for more favorable coverage of Netanyahu were released by Channel 2 on Friday and Saturday. Reportedly Netanyahu sought certain journalists who would give him more positive coverage and sought an agreement with US billionaire and Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson over weakening the paper.

Reportedly Netanyahu told Mozes in a conversation in 2014 to recruit journalists to “lower their level of hostility towards from 9.5 to 7.5.” to which Mozes reportedly responded, “It is clear to me. Leave it, need to ensure that you will be prime minister,” according to Channel 2 on Saturday.

This comes as Mozes is going to questioned by police on Sunday and Netanyahu will be questioned for a third time sometime this week, according to multiple Hebrew media reports. Police, in what they are calling Case 2000, are investigating Netanyahu, reportedly regarding allegations based on several recordings that he and Mozes sought to conspire to weaken Israel Hayom.

Excerpts from the conversation allegedly illustrate the moves the two were planning to weaken Israel Hayom, which is seen as pro-Netanyahu. “What’s the bottom line? How can we do this quickly?” Mozes reportedly said according to additional leaks on Friday. “We can legislate it,” Netanyahu is said to have responded.

Here the prime minister allegedly referred to legislation in 2014 termed the “Israel Hayom bill.” In 2014, Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel initiated the so-called Israel Hayom bill, which sought to bolster the print newspaper industry by banning free newspapers, including Israel Hayom. Two weeks after the legislation passed in preliminary reading, Netanyahu dissolved the Knesset and thus the measure’s progress was halted. The two reportedly also referenced Cabel, who was questioned by police last week regarding the case.

On Saturday night, Cabel denied that there was any connection between his law and the plans Mozes and Netanyahu were devising.

“When I submitted the ‘Yisrael Hayom’ law I didn’t know Noni Mozes,” said Cabel on Channel 2’s meet the press show.

“I knew the whole time that I needed to protect myself carefully since I would be exposed to attacks, but he spoke to me like [Haaretz publisher Amos] Shocken speaks to me about his newspaper,” said Cabel.

“I’m not part of this rotten story. I have no dealings with Netanyahu.”

Netanyahu was questioned under caution for a total of eight hours in two sessions on January 2 and 5 regarding Case 2000 and in the separate Case 1000, which deals with Netanyahu allegedly receiving illegal gifts from Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. The prime minister has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the ongoing criminal investigation.

The widely circulated, freely distributed Israel Hayom is the main competitor of Yedioth, and has significantly cut into the latter’s advertising revenue.

In transcripts of the conversation leaked on Friday Netanyahu allegedly stated that he would ask Israel Hayom owner US billionare and Netanyahu confident Sheldon Adelson, who he referred to as “the gingy,” or redhead, if such a law was acceptable to him.

“I want to speak with the gingy (Sheldon Adelson), he’ll be in Israel in two weeks,” Netanyahu reportedly said, with Mozes reponding, “We need to see how to do something he can live with, maybe a different law, I want to make it easier, not more difficult.”

Netanyahu also reportedly told Mozes in their alleged 2014 meetings that he will personally mediate between Mozes and several German businessmen who could invest in the former’s publication.

In addition the two reportedly discussed the “issue of volume,” seemingly referring to limiting the distribution of Israel Hayom.

The police reportedly obtained the audio recordings when they searched the cellphone and computer of Ari Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, who was questioned in July.

On Tuesday Channel 2 reported that Mozes told Netanyahu that would “do all I can [to ensure] that you will be here as long as you want.”

Meanwhile, MKs publicly slammed Netanyahu on Saturday following the revelation of new details.

MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Union) took to social media to express her criticism of the prime minister, posting on Facebook that “Netanyahu is holding on to his rule out of a passion for power and [because of] the perks the role brings with it, but not in order to use his power for the benefit of the country.”

In her post Shafir called Netanyahu “the first Israeli prime minister of the mafia” and added that “this is why he has decided to crash and run over all the mechanisms that might rein in his power or expose its injustices to the public.”

The criticism came not only from the direction of opposition members but also from ministers and Knesset members from Netanyahu’s party, the Likud. MK David Bitan, who is considered by many a close confidante of the prime minister said in an interview to Channel 10 on Friday that “after the investigation ends, Netanyahu will have to give up his role as Communications Minister.”

MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said: “The attorney general has to make the decision whether to file an indictment bill that will demand the prompt publication of the full transcript or not. On a public level, this is a very grave thing. Mandelblit has to commit now so that we know what happened there, there’s a risk here that the public will lose faith in the government and in the media.”

Another Yesh Atid MK, Meir Cohen, said that “this is the first time since this government has been established that the smell of new elections can be sensed in the air. I’m getting this spirit from Likud MKs, they’re telling me:’we sense that this is the end.'”

Cohen added that this is “one of the most difficult affairs to have happened in the State of Israel.”

This transcript sheds further light on the exchange between Netanyahu and Mozes and follows other reports that suggested that the prime minister offered Mozes that they push forward a law that will force Israel Hayom to start charging money from its readers, thus weakening the daily publication that is known to have cut into the revenues of Yedioth Aharonot.

Police are also investigating Case 1000, which deals with allegations that Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of gifts – cigars and gourmet meals – from Israeli-born US movie mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

Sara Netanyhau’s was questioned at the hands of the Lahav 433 National Fraud Unit on Wednesday, regarding Case 1000 reportedly about receiving large amounts of pink champagne. According to the report in Channel 2 Sara Netanyahu said the champagne is a legitimate gift between friends.

Netanyahu remains adamant in his denial of the allegations and repeating a mantra throughout the investigation of “there will be nothing because there is nothing,” and advising his “friends in the opposition not to begin celebrating because there is no cause for celebrations.”   (Jerusalem Post)

Syrian army claims Israel is responsible for aerial attack on airport near Damascus

Syrian army command said on Friday that Israel fired rockets at a major military airbase outside Damascus, and warned Tel Aviv of repercussions of what it called a “flagrant” attack.

The explosions were heard in the capital, and residents in the southwest suburbs saw a large plume of smoke rising from the area, while video footage downloaded on social media showed flames leaping from parts of Mezzah military airport’s compound.

Syrian state television quoted the army as saying several rockets were fired from an area near Lake Tiberias in northern Israel just after midnight which landed in the compound of the airbase, used by President Bashar al-Assad’s elite Republican Guards.

“Syrian army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators,” the army command said in a statement.

The statement did not disclose if there were any casualties, but said the rockets caused a fire. Earlier, state television said several major explosions hit Mezzah military airport’s compound and ambulances were rushed to the area.

Government forces had in the past used the base to fire rockets at former rebel-held areas in the capital’s suburbs.

The airport, located just a few kilometers from Assad’s presidential palace, had been a base used to fire rockets at former rebel-held areas in the suburbs of Damascus.

Israel in the past has allegedly targeted positions of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group inside Syria where the Iranian-backed group is heavily involved in fighting alongside the Syrian army.

Only last November, the Syrian army said Israeli jets fired two missiles on an area west of the capital, close to the Damascus Beirut-highway, in an attack mounted from Lebanese air space.

Diplomatic sources say Israel has in the past few years targeted advanced weapons systems, including Russian made anti-aircraft and Iranian made missiles and bombed the elite Fourth Armoured Division base on Qasioun mountain in the capital.

An air strike in Syria in December 2015 killed a prominent Hezbollah leader, Samir Qantar.

Israel welcomed Qantar’s death, saying he was preparing attacks from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for eliminating him.

Earlier that year, an alleged Israeli air strike in Syria killed six members of Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of the its late military chief Imad Moughniyah near the Golan Heights.

Israeli defense officials have voiced concern that Hezbollah’s experience in the Syrian civil war, where it has played a significant role and recently helped the Syrian army regain the eastern sector of the city of Aleppo, has strengthened it.

Rebels operating in the area have said Hezbollah’s major arms supply route into Damascus from the Lebanese border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by air strikes. This has included strikes on warehouses and convoys of weapons.

Damascus airport was also hit by air strikes in 2013. Israel neither confirms nor denies involvement in striking targets inside Syria, with the IDF declining to comment on the reported aerial attack.

Israel has been largely unscathed by the Syrian civil war, with only sporadic incidents of stray shells falling on its territory. (Jerusalem Post)

Is Europe’s jihadist problem generating empathy toward Israel?

By Cnaan Liphshiz                 JTA

http://www.jta.org/2017/01/11/news-opinion/world/is-europes-jihadist-problem-generating-empathy-toward-israel

When a Palestinian terrorist used a car to ram and kill an Israeli soldier in eastern Jerusalem in 2014, the European Union urged “restraint” and, without condemning the attack, called it merely “further painful evidence of the need to undertake serious efforts towards a sustainable peace agreement.”

The statement by EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini was “a typical EU reaction, which blames the victim for getting attacked,” Oded Eran, a former ambassador of Israel to the European Union and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said at the time.

Two years later, however, European officials had a much different reaction to a similar attack in eastern Jerusalem, which killed four Israeli soldiers on Sunday.

“The European Union condemns the murder of these four young Israelis, as well as any praise or incitement for terrorist acts,” Brussels said in a statement, which unlike the 2014 communique omitted any reference to the fact that the attack happened in an area of Jerusalem that it considers occupied.

Unusually, following Sunday’s attack the Israeli flag was projected on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Paris City Hall, signs of solidarity with the Jewish state permitted by local authorities. Rotterdam City Hall flew the Israeli flag at half-mast.

To Eran and other observers of Israeli-EU relations, this change in tune is indicative of greater understanding and empathy in Europe to Israel’s fight against terrorism following a a wave of terrorist attacks on the continent beginning in 2012.

“I think it’s a new development that sincerely stems from the change in the mind of many people in Europe, in government and beyond, who now understand better than a few years ago the impact and influence of terrorism on the daily lives of innocent victims,” Eran told JTA on Wednesday.

He was referring to the cumulative effect of at least a dozen major attacks on Western European soil since 2012 in which local or foreign jihadists killed hundreds of victims using methods long associated with Palestinian terrorists.

Last month, a terrorist whom the Islamic State terrorist group described as its “soldier” killed 11 people, including one Israeli tourist, at a Berlin Christmas market by plowing a stolen truck through the crowd. In July, a similar attack claimed over 80 lives in Nice, France. Days later, an Afghan man injured four people with an axe on a train in southern Germany.

These events happened just months after the murder of over 30 people in a series of explosions in Brussels in March, and fresh on the heels of a horrific series of bombings and shootings that left 130 people dead in Paris in November 2015.

The Israeli government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, have been persistently drawing an equivalence between the attacks in Europe and attacks against Israelis by Palestinians.

“The terrorists who attack us have the same murderous intent as those in Paris,” Netanyahu said about the November 2015 Paris attacks. “It is time for states to condemn terrorism against us like they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.”

Some European leaders clearly see his point.

Following the Berlin attack, German President Joachim Gauck said as much in a reply he sent to a condolence message from Gauck’s Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin.

“You and your country are in a position to understand fully what being threatened by terrorism means for a people and a nation because in your country it has become almost a daily phenomenon. We know that you can feel with us and commiserate,” Gauck said.

Avraham Nir-Feldklein, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Berlin, further drove home the message in a statement following the projection of the Israeli flag on the Brandenburg Gate, a gesture initiated by pro-Israel activists.

“We all find ourselves facing the same terror, from Nice through Berlin to Jerusalem, but together we will stand against evil, and we will prevail,” he wrote.

On Twitter, the German Foreign Ministry shared a picture of the projection, stating it was “in solidarity with Israel.” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, by contrast, described the gesture in her city merely as a “tribute to the victims of the attack” in Jerusalem.

Muna Duzdar, an Austrian state secretary, insisted in an interview Wednesday with JTA that “Europe always understood that Israel has a right to defend itself and have security,” and that greater empathy in Europe for terror victims extends not just to Israel but to victims around the world.

But following the attacks in Europe, “now we’re having the situation that we have daily terrorist attacks. I wake up and there’s an attack in Israel, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Germany. No country is left unaffected. And it might be that someone who was affected himself has a better understanding of this.

Duzdar, who was born in Austria to Palestinian parents and heads the Palestinian Austrian Society, rejected during the interview claims that the attack was not a terrorist incident because it was directed against soldiers on land that Palestinians consider occupied.

“This attack targeted human beings, and as far as I understand it was a jihadist who did that, whose intention was to attack people,” she said.

In Belgium, the firebrand anti-Israel columnist Dyab Abou Jahjah, who for years justified violence against Israelis and Americans in the pages of the De Standaard daily, was fired Monday for defending Sunday’s Jerusalem attack on social media.

“An attack on occupation soldiers in occupied territory is not terrorism! It is an act of Resistance. #FreePalestine,” Abou Jahjah wrote.

In a statement, De Standaard editor-in-chief Karel Verhoeven wrote that Abou Jahjah “has placed himself beyond the borders of acceptable debate” by endorsing violence.

Yet the gestures of empathy toward Israel will not likely carry over to EU policy, according to Eran, the former ambassador.

“These gestures are heartwarming and indicative of a positive change, but there is a clear distinction between empathy and policy in the corridors of the European Union, which is likely to remain as critical as ever of Israeli settlements and continue to oppose them on every international arena,” he said.

Obama’s Betrayal of Israel

by Guy Millière              The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9755/obama-betrayal-israel

President Obama’s decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council and to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem — home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.

Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace.

The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.

In this new “Dreyfus trial,” the accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the OIC and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict has been decided before it even starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available.

The declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines — thereby instituting apartheid. It also praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning of millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, thus transforming Israel into an Arab Muslim state where a massacre of Jews could conveniently be organized.

The declaration is most likely meant serve as the basis for a new Security Council resolution on January 17 that would recognize a Palestinian state inside the “1967 borders,” and be adopted, thanks to a second US abstention, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.

The US Congress is already discussing bills to defund the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans think that the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.

Khaled Abu Toameh noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more murders and violence.

Daniel Pipes recently wrote that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stresses that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated.

Resolution 2334 and the Paris conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply a victory for jihad.

The Middle East is in chaos. More than half a million people have been killed in the Syrian war and the number is rising. Bashar al-Assad’s army used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians; Russia has bombed schools and hospitals.

Syrians, Christians, Yazidis, Libyans, Yemenis and Egyptians all face lethal treats. Iranian leaders still shout “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” while buying nuclear equipment with money from lifted sanctions. Turkey is sliding toward an Islamist dictatorship, and unable to stem attacks against it.

The only democratic and stable country in the region is Israel, and that is the country U.S. President Barack Obama, in the final weeks of his term, chooses to incriminate. His decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council, to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution also declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.

UNSC Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations, by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech five days later confirmed Obama’s support for the resolution. Kerry, like US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, used the existence of Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria as a pretext to endorse the position of Palestinian leaders, who want to ethnically cleanse Jews from these areas. But this was just a prelude.

The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.

Organized by François Hollande, a failed French President who will leave power in four months, it was supported from the start by the Obama administration. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called it “the new Dreyfus trial.” The accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict is known before it starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned to what its accusers hope will be the beginning of its end.

Some commentators have compared what will happen in Paris to the 1942 Wannsee Conference in Nazi Germany, because the aim seems clearly to be the “final solution” of the “Jewish problem” in the Middle East. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available. It affirms unreserved support for the “Palestinian Statehood strategy” and the principle of intangibility (that the borders cannot be modified) of the “1967 borders,” including East Jerusalem, the Old City and the Western Wall.

The draft declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond these borders — thereby instituting apartheid — and praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, and thus the transforming of Israel into an Arab Muslim state — where a massacre of the Jews could conveniently be organized.

The declaration is most likely meant to be the basis for a new UN Security Council resolution that would endorse the recognition of a Palestinian state in the “1967 borders” as defined in the declaration. The new resolution could be adopted by a second US abstention at the Security Council on January 17, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.

On January 20, however, Donald J. Trump is to take office as President of the United States. Trump sent a message on December 23: “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” He added explicitly that the U.S. “cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”

On January 5, the US House of Representatives approved a text harshly criticizing Resolution 2334. Congress is already discussing defunding the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans and members of UN think the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens recently wondered if the creation of a Palestinian state would alleviate the current Middle East chaos. His answer was that it would not, and that the creation of a Palestinian state would be seen as a victory for jihadists. He also noted that the Palestinian Authority still behaves like a terrorist entity; that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would encourage Hamas and lead to the creation of another terrorist Islamic state in the West Bank, and that an Israeli withdrawal is something that most Palestinians do not even want:

“[A] telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.”

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab journalist who has never yet been wrong, noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more violence, murders and confrontation. He added that if presidential elections by the PA were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win by a comfortable margin.

In another important article, Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes writes that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stressed that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated. He predicts that for peace to come, Israel must win unambiguously, and the Palestinians pass through “the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair.”

Jihadi indoctrination, as well as the financial aid given to Palestinian terrorists, have been paid for by the United States, France, and other Western European nations. That too should stop.

Resolution 2334 and the Paris peace conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply victories for jihad.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.